Former public utilities minister Robert Le Hunte strongly believes his recent resignation from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s administration is the reason why he was rejected by the People’s National Movement (PNM) to contest the La Brea seat in the upcoming general election.
As a result of the rejection, Le Hunte has asked the La Brea constituency and executive to throw their support behind another nominee.
“Based on feedback received from members who were there (screening) and the executive I think my actions of offering my resignation had a significant part to play in me being not accepted as a candidate. I think that is a fair assessment,” Le Hunte told Guardian Media yesterday during a telephone interview.
He was responding to a question if he felt he was sidelined by the screening committee for severing his ties from Cabinet.
On May 16, Le Hunte resigned because of “professional conflict on policy position.”
Le Hunte said he offered to step down as the constituency’s top choice after the party’s screening committee on Saturday instructed the La Brea executive to widen its scope of potential candidates yet again.
Incumbent La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre and Le Hunte were rejected following screening last month.
A pool of 13 nominees faced the screening committee on Saturday but no one was selected.
The executive has to hunt for another batch of nominees with screening to take place on June 20.
Despite receiving overwhelming support from the constituency, Le Hunte has given up.
“I have reached the end of my journey as a nominee for La Brea. I would think that all doors are now relatively shut on that. The screening committee has demonstrated clearly, in my mind, that they would like to see another candidate for La Brea.”
He conceded he was not the nominee the committee wanted.
Taking the famous catchphrase from America’s former First Lady Michelle Obama, Le Hunte said “when they go low, you go high.”
Le Hunte commended the constituency for their continued confidence in him, urging them and the battle scarred executive “to move on” and focus on another nominee.
“When I entered the screening process I understood the rules of the game, and therefore, the ultimate decision rests on the screening committee to decide. If that is their decision. That is fine.”
He believes when one door closes, another opens.
Asked if he was giving up the fight with a heavy heart, Le Hunte said no.
“My heavy heart is that I would not be able to serve the people of La Brea. I will not now be in a position to do that. For that, I am a little bit disappointed…disappointed not because I was not selected as the candidate but disappointed not to represent the people who endorsed me. I wanted to be the flag bearer of the party.”
“If there are now different views on that, I have no problem in stepping back and allowing the party to do what they feel they need to do, The decision of me being a candidate has been made. I think the party has signalled clearly they don’t want me to be a candidate.”
Le Hunte said he did not enter politics to hold office and he has demonstrated so with his recent actions.
“I have demonstrated by my actions that I am not a person that is a lover of office. It was not about office, as you have seen. I could give up office based on my past decisions.”
He promised to work with whoever is selected to bring home the seat for the PNM in the upcoming polls.
Le Hunte said it was not uncommon for the screening committee to ask the executive to look for a wider cross section of people if they were dissatisfied with who was screened.
Pressed if he was disenchanted by the turn of events, Le Hunte said he offered himself knowing fully well of the process which has taken its course.
However, as the party’s vice chairman, Le Hunte said he would continue to be a member of the PNM.
“ I am still a member of the PNM family. I am definitely not going to leave the People’s National Movement….I’m not leaving the party to join any other party….that is for sure. I remain committed to the party for the past 31 years.”
Le Hunte said he has always demonstrated that “what you say you must be.”
As professionals, Le Hunte said, people could disagree “but not necessarily be disagreeable. You could disagree on a point but it does not mean you have to disagree on everything.”
Since offering his resignation, Le Hunte said he has not bad-talked the PNM.
“I continue to be a loyal supporter of my party and Government and I will not say anything negative about them. I refused to get into the mudslinging and going against my integrity,” he added.
Coming from the banking sector, Le Hunte said he would continue to explore several options that are available to him.